Q&A: Donna Campbell, Destination Canada
Donna Campbell is the managing director of D.C. & Associates Worldwide and the GSA (general sales agent) for Destination Canada in Australia. She has more than 39 years of tourism experience selling and promoting Canada in the international markets, predominately the Asia Pacific region.
For the past 17 years, Donna has led the Australian team to raise awareness for Canada in the Australian marketplace.
Donna is a Canadian citizen and is known as the ‘Face for Canada’ in the Australian market.
When did you start out in the travel industry?
I always knew I wanted to work in tourism. When I finished high school, an entry-level job with Tourism British Columbia came up and I jumped at it. I started out in very junior roles but always had my eye on the next position. I slowly climbed the corporate ladder and 20 years later, became regional director, Asia Pacific. What is it you love about working in the travel industry? What makes this industry most special is the people. Tourism attracts dynamic, adventurous individuals who are keen to get the most out of life and explore the world.
What are your favourite cities to visit in Canada and why?
Victoria, on Vancouver Island, offers visitors an escape from the hurried world. It has a mild climate, so the gardens are exquisite. St John’s, Newfoundland, is on the eastern coastline of Canada and is very different from anywhere else in Canada. The rugged topography is softened by the incredibly generous and warm-hearted people. Quebec City is French-speaking and the only North American city where the original fortified city walls remain. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the ultimate romantic getaway.
You live in Sydney — which three places do you love showing off to international visitors?
I like to show off the icons of Sydney: a performance at Sydney Opera House and a Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb. A walking tour of Sydney’s inner-city communities – they are so diverse, and the Hunter Valley is the perfect day trip from Sydney to enjoy food and wine.
What are your favourite restaurants to take guests to in Sydney?
We are spoilt for choice in Sydney, but it is hard to go past a good Italian restaurant. Cucinetta in Hunters Hill is my favourite. For a date night, Est. in the city is unforgettable and One Penny Red offers a modern Australian style of food with an ethical focus in Summer Hill.
Which places in the world would you love to visit that you haven’t been to before?
I’m passionate about seeing animals in their natural habitat so South Africa is on the top of the list, followed closely by the unique cities and culture that make up Croatia. F
For people who haven’t been to Canada before, what are the top five places you recommend they visit?
Get on the water. Whether it’s a trip from Vancouver to Victoria on BC Ferries, or a cruise through the Northwest Passage, there is so much diverse country to see. Ride the rails on the Canadian that spans the entire country. Be rocked to sleep in your sleeper carriage and during the way, watch the countryside change as you travel across Canada. Dawson City in Yukon Territory looks like the set of a gold rush movie with its colourful buildings and boardwalks from the Klondike Gold Rush days. Churchill in Manitoba is where you get up close with polar bears. Walk among them with a guide, ride a tundra buggy, or stay in one of the lodges at Seal River. The waterfront village of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia must be one of the most Instagram-friendly destinations in Canada with charming clapboard houses, rich history, and incredible food and wine sourced from the farms and wineries of the nearby Annapolis Valley.
When not travelling for work, where do you like to go?
The NSW outback. We have a cattle farm just outside Glen Innes that we return to as often as we can. Life in the country is far less complicated, the locals are genuine, and life tends to wind back a notch or two. People have time to truly connect with their neighbours and friends and spend quality time together. The wildlife becomes part of your daily life and you actually have the time to stop, watch and admire the animals and birds in their natural habitat.
What tips do you have for people starting out in the travel industry?
This is an industry built on relationships so be passionate about your job. It shows, and it opens so many doors.